Opinion by Patrick Avenell

Leading beverage supplier Lion is currently disrupting the bottle shop and pub industries with a new pour-at-home beer dispenser called the Tap King.

The Tap King is being marketed as ‘Refreshing draught beer at home’, with consumers able to pour a glass straight from the fridge from one of six Lion brands: Hahn SuperDry, XXXX Gold, James Squire Golden Ale, Tooheys New, Tooheys Extra Dry and James Boag’s Premium.

Lion’s traditional partners, on-premise and off-premise, are naturally hesitant. When any supplier does something unusual, retailers tend to become anxious — are they being cut out of equation? Is the supplier thinking of abandoning them altogether?

It’s understandable that a pub would be concerned that the Tap King will mean people will stay at home to enjoy a schooner instead of going to the local, but as Lion marketing manager Josh Gaudry said at the Tap King launch, Nespresso didn’t kill cafes.

In the electrical retail industry, we have seen nervous responses to suppliers doing things differently: Samsung opening a brand concept store, Dyson selling accessories direct to consumers, Sunbeam selling vacuum sealers on their stand the Good Food & Wine Show.

The clothing industry has been revolutionised by changes in supply: there are now drop-shippers specialising in women’s shoes, children’s onesies and business suits; the department store retailers have had to lock down exclusive brands to keep customers interested and media companies are investing in online retailers to maximise sales through promotions.

Suppliers need retailers and retailers need suppliers. But retailers also need suppliers to be interesting; to think differently and to come up with new ideas and concepts to keep customers spending money.

Gaudry told leading liquor news site The Shout that Nespresso consulted with Lion on the release of the Tap King.

Nespresso and its machine partners (currently De’Longhi and Breville) brought a whole new business model to the appliance industry. Retailers were sceptical about whether it made sense to sell a coffee machine that required the continual purchase of specific pods to use. And, remember, retailers can’t even sell the pods – only Nespresso does that – so it was a model that seemed far too pro-Nespresso and retailer-ambiguous.

But it’s a model that completely transformed a category, leading to massive sales for all parties (and a great cup of coffee for the consumer).

This story first appeared on TheShout.com.au